Archive for December, 2015

Here is a link to the text we will read upon our return to school next week:



8th graders: Here is a link to the text Douglass mentions:The Columbian Orator

Douglass benefitted greatly from its lessons–perhaps you will too!


The Mad Artist?

Posted: December 14, 2015 in Home

7th Graders: Does the Mad Artist play an active role in your essay writing?

Topic + Theme + Text = Thesis Statement

Theme: lesson learned—what the story teaches us about that topic. Moreover, the theme becomes the argument of your essay, of your thesis statement. It is important to remember that the theme is derived from reading the text. Therefore, the thesis must also mention the text, as the text is the primary source for the argument.

Thesis Statement:

  • Presents an argument or point of view, NOT merely a fact from the story—it must pass the “so what?” test.
  • Your thesis statement has three parts that preview the structure of the essay—this is a parallel arrangement.
  • A thesis statement is expressed concisely in one or two sentences and it appears at the end of your introductory paragraph.
  • The thesis statement is written in complete sentences

So, I have already established the fact that essays are not written by checking off boxes and that essay writing is form of discourse, a conversation of sorts, but going in one direction. My reply won’t appear until after the finished product is produced.

I strongly recommend that you consider writing this essay “to” me. To do so, you should simply write as though you want to tell me something, to share your knowledge and ideas about the topic. I certainly believe that you are all independent thinkers, and I also believe that your thoughts are valuable. Whether or not you realize it yet, you have insight, and I want to hear it. Don’t bog your thoughts and ideas down in thinking about numbers of sentences and such. Just tell me what you want to say.

I look forward to reading your essays.

Thesis Statements

Posted: December 10, 2015 in Home

Here is the link many of you requested: Thesis Statement Basics

Write “to” me, not “for” me…

Posted: December 10, 2015 in Home

Just a reiteration on the advice I offered on writing essays…

When you write “for” your teachers, you are thinking about requirements, deadlines, essay components, page length, etc. Some of you are even counting sentences. Such an approach is not conducive to self expression. In fact, that type of thinking will only stifle your expression.

  • Don’t write to check off boxes: an essay is discourse; think of it as a one way conversation, wherein you express your thoughts and ideas. Essays can be a creative form of self expression when you don’t focus only on the requirements.
  • Don’t write just to “get it done.” Take the time to carefully craft your thoughts in writing. Writing is a chance for you to express yourself freely and without interruptions.
  • Write as you talk; we can always make it more formal later.
  • See how creatively you can think about a topic
  • Remember: Don’t dive right in! Use the advantage of the drafting process to make your essay great, and don’t forget to recruit the assistance of the mad artist.

More to follow….